Santiago Urrutia wrapped up the Mazda Motorsports advancement scholarship for winning the championship on Saturday, but there was still a lot to race for as evidenced by the march up the final points table made this weekend by Garett Grist.
Grist, a 20 year-old, made a daring first lap move stick, and scored his second win of the weekend. The Grimsby, Ontario native started the day in fifth place in points, but the extra markers he earned for the victory moved him past Weiron Tan and Timothe Buret to finish the season in third place.
The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series was the first Mazda Road To Indy series to take to the green flag on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Road Course.
After suffering significant damage in a incident before the green flag yesterday, the No. 21 of Victor Franzoni did not start today’s race.
After a brief delay for some course repairs in Turn 5, championship winner Santiago Urrutia led the 18 Mazda powered cars to the green flag just after noon.
After an incident before the start finish line yesterday the field was aligned perfect two by two as they took the green flag and streamed towards the Andretti Hairpin.
Yesterday’s winner Garett Grist was able to get inside of Urrutia and made a clean pass for the lead. The brake smoke and dust flew behind them, but everybody managed to make it safely through the tight left-hander.
The disappointing season for Florian Latorre, last years USF2000 champion continued as his car ground to a halt between Turn 5 and Turn 6 after contact with Weiron Tan.
The first yellow flag of the day flew just after the first lap so that the Holmatro Safety Team could retrieve Latorre and his wounded Soul Red No. 10.
The biggest movers on the first lap were Pato O’Ward (14th to 7th) and Dalton Kellett (9th to 5th).
The course went green again on Lap 4 with Urrutia shadowing the Juncos Racing machine of Grist into Turn 2. Urrutia made a last minute dive to inside of Grist and the No 82’s front wing made contact with the rear diffuser of the No. 5.
Grist said he was worried that he might have suffered some damage, but is was Urritia who damaged the front wing on the Team Pelfrey car. Urrutia explained that the damage really hurt in the high speed corners and he complemented Grist on driving error free in front of him.
Behind the leaders, Raoul Owens who was running eighth, had contact and ended up up-side down in the gravel trap, and the course went yellow for the second time. He exited the No. 80 Team Pelfrey machine under his own power and was uninjured.
The field took the green flag for the third time with just ten minutes left in the race. Michael Johnson spun coming out of Turn 11 but was able to keep going and this time the strung out field was able to get through Turn 2 cleanly and run three laps under green conditions.
Grist was able to build up a two second lead over Urritia who was nursing a damaged front wing before the yellow flag flew for the third time when Alessandro Latif had contact on the backside of the circuit.
The car of Latif was removed quickly and the the green and white flag flew on Lap 13. It was the third time that Grist would lead the field to a restart and once again he was able to hold off a challenge from Urrutia, who was facing his own challenge from Neil Alberico who juked to the inside in an attempt out-brake Urrutia, but the field held station over the final lap as the checkers flew on another successful Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire season.
The win was the third of the year for Grist, his fifth in Pro Mazda and sixth overall Mazda Road To Indy win.
Neil Alberico’s third place finish was his eighth podium in 2015 and marks the 21st time he’s stood on a Mazda Road To Indy podium.
RANK — DRIVER — LAPS COMPLETED
1 Garett Grist 14
2 Santiago Urrutia 14
3 Neil Alberico 14
4 Will Owen 14
5 Dalton Kellett 14
6 Pato O’Ward 14
7 Timothe Buret 14
8 Jose Gutierrez 14
9 Weiron Tan 14
10 Kyle Connery 14
11 Daniel Burkett 14
12 Parker Nicklin 14
13 Michael Johnson 14
14 Bobby Eberle(E) 14
15 Alessandro Latif 10
16 Raoul Owens 4
17 Jay Horak(E) 1
18 Florian Latorre —
19 Victor Franzoni —